The Happiest Medium review by guest contributor, Linnea Covington.
The first trick to getting into Cowboy Mouth is handed to you by a sullen looking lobster standing on a dingy street corner in the East Village. With a glassy-eyed stare the human crustacean thrusts a bag of plastic-wrapped fortune cookies towards you. Inside each delicate confection is your instruction. Hence, the madness begins as you enter the red door.
Inside the room is a bed. On the bed is a couple, sleeping, rolling around, moaning, and what not. As you choose from one of the many mismatched sofas or chairs spread around the front of the room, another choice befalls you—should you, or should you not, take from the box of cheap Burgundy wine? I choose a sip and then no more, but regardless it’s there, it’s free … it’s part of the show.
Now, you’re ready for Cowboy Mouth, a play that first made its appearance in 1971 when it was written and performed by punk-poetess Patti Smith and dramatist Sam Shepard, who were having an affair at the time. The current run by One Old Crow Productions successfully takes on the intense, three-person ballad in a whirlwind of tense, raw emotions so pure that at points I wanted to cover my ears and close my eyes.
The play takes part in the apartment of a skinny rocker named Cavale where she and her man Slim drink, eat, fuck, do drugs, play music, and fight. A lot. Slim has left his family for the tiny muse and Cavale is finding her own path after a stint in a mental hospital. They’re both crazy, though, and throughout the play it’s not clear who is real. Is Cavale, adeptly played by Diana Beshara, a figment of Slim’s imagination? Is he truly trapped there? Or is it his own mind that has imprisoned him in the dream of rock n’ roll fame? Geoffrey Pomeroy plays the angst-ridden Slim and the chemistry which he and Beshara share on stage makes you wonder if in fact they are a real life tortured couple, living in a dirty flat in the East Village just as Smith and Shepard were. This is, after all, Smith and Shepard’s real story.
As the pair fight and throw things at each other the pure poetry that is so much the baseline for Smith’s personality gets interwoven in the dialogue, which the two spew out as if it’s in their blood. Beshara too has an essence of Smith, whether it’s because of her wiry frame, mess of black tresses, or ability to look manly, feminine, ugly, and beautiful all at the same time.
As for that forlorn lobster at the beginning of my journey, he (played by Matthew Mark Stannah) makes his way on to the stage, never saying a word but conveying everything with a glance. It’s the combination of these intense actors under the direction of Leah Benevides that have made this room in the Village a mirror to the past as they create a space that one could easily see Smith and Shepard inhabiting all those years ago when they first came out with the show.
~~~One Old Crow Productions presents a site-specific production COWBOY MOUTH by Sam Shepard and Patti Smith directed by Leah Benavides . Playing in an apartment above Lucky Cheng’s (24 1st Avenue at 2nd Street) June 7-22, 2012 June 7 & 8, 11-14, & 20 & 21 at 8pm, Friday, June 15 & 22 at 8pm and 10pm Sunday, June 10 & 17 at 5pm.
Tickets $15 . Click Here to purchase